Why Strength Training Is So Important!
Do you do regular strength training? I am not talking about joining a body building gym to pump some iron, but adding some bodyweight exercises or resistance training in the gym using equipment like the machines, free weights, kettle bells or suspension trainers? There are a lot of ways to develop strength and it is important that we include this type of training in our fitness programmes for overall health.
You often hear the phrases "I don't want to get massive" or "I don't want big muscles" from women in particular but also endurance athletes can fall into the trap of excluding resistance training from their programmes. The truth is, if it were that easy to 'get massive' then everyone would be walking around like Arnold Schwarzenegger and the skinny teenage boys hitting the gym to impress the girls would get results straight away, but we know that doesn't happen! It takes years of dedication, specific training and an associated healthy diet to get even close to the physique of a body builder or fitness model.
So, for us mere mortals, it is all about strength training for health and if we take part in a specific sport or we are training to complete a challenge, it can assist us with our performance and injury prevention.
Lets look at the benefits, that is what you all want to know right?!
- Increased bone density - particularly important for increasing the bone mineral density for post menopausal women and it helps with osteoporosis as 'loading' improves bone health rather than inactivity which has associated health risks.
- Helps to develop your cardiac muscle to build a stronger heart.
- Improves blood flow assisting the body to supply more oxygen to the brain, other organs and improve overall health.
- Reduces blood pressure at rest reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, helping your heart so it doesn't need to work so hard.
- Prevents muscle wastage and could even reverse it which helps us to keep independent as we get older.
- Helps to control blood sugar so we are not at risk of problems such as hypoglycaemia (low blood pressure), hyperglycaemia (high blood pressure) or diabetic ketoacidosis.
- Improves our cholesterol levels ensuring your body can manage both good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol for optimum health.
- Helps with balance and coordination which means we can better carry out daily tasks or improve in our chosen sports.
- It is good for injury prevention as it allows you to move your joints through their range of motion against a controlled resistance, strengthening the muscles, ligaments and tendons.
- Helps to burn fat and build a toned physique so we look good naked right?! ;) After resistance training our post exercise oxygen consumption is increased to help recovery so our body needs to do more work than it would after aerobic activity. This takes energy and therefore boosts your metabolism.
- Think and feel better as strength training increases our cognitive function.
- Prevents disease such as heart disease and conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.
- It can be used to manage conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and depression. It could improve quality of life.
- I felt like I couldn't end on 13 so I have added another benefit, it wasn't hard to add another. The last one is variety of training. Adding strength training to your programme or weekly workouts can make exercise fun, open avenues to meet new people and be part of a new community!
Check out the Training Programme section for some support if you want a programme to start training with or join the next online personal training group to get daily advice and guidance on how to achieve your strength training goals. Take a look at the Personal Training section for this and more detailed plans.